From the Diary: My First Marathon Experience
Last weekend, I did something that a couple years ago I would have never imagined possible with my fitness abilities, or rather, lack thereof: I ran a marathon!!!
I took the ferry to Victoria Saturday afternoon, ate a huge dinner with my new friend Vicki—who was running her 6th marathon—went to sleep, and woke up the next morning to run the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon at 8 AM.
I thought the experience would be really interesting, so I wrote down my thoughts before the marathon, the day of the marathon, and the few days after the marathon. Here are my journal entries:
October 7, 2017: The day before the marathon
I’m sitting on the ferry to Swartz Bay as I write this. There are 17 hours left before the start of the race. I say “race,” but I’m not really racing it. It’s my first marathon so I don’t have anything to beat, nor do I have a goal. I’m hoping to run it in about 4 hours 30 minutes—that’s what an online calculator predicted my time to be.
I think I’m a little nervous. I’m done two half marathons before, I’ve been running regularly, and I’ve been training for this for 2 months officially. I’ve always thought, “Eh, I’ve done a half marathon before. Doing double can’t be that bad.”
Yesterday, I googled a bunch of stuff like tips for your first marathon, what to eat before a marathon, what does it feel like after a marathon, and recovery after marathon.
I ended up on YouTube watching people walk after running marathons, which made me think, “What the heck have I gotten myself into?!” People could barely walk after, and the day after looked the absolute worst. I think I scared myself a little.
Well, I’m on my way to Victoria now, so I’m doing this for real. Talking about it is easy, but now I actually have to do it. Ah!
I’m pretty excited to go to Victoria though. Last time I was in Victoria was when I was 5 years old, so it’s basically like my first trip there. I’m going to spend less than 24 hours there, but it’s a little trip, nonetheless. Plus, I’m like totally sightseeing while running, right?
I wonder how I’ll feel after the marathon. Will I be in a lot of pain? Probably. What will I be craving? Will I feel like I accomplished a great feat? Will my life be drastically changed?
Dina before the 42.2 km
October 8, 2017: During the marathon
October 8, 2017: Seven hours after finishing the marathon
One word: Ouch. My feet, legs and butt are so sore it’s hard to walk. I kind of waddle around. But my lungs feel amazing! I have a headache though—but I get headaches after every long run that I do, so no surprise there. My arms, shoulders and back seem fine now but I know they’re going to be sore tomorrow.
It’s been seven hours since I finished my first marathon. It’s hard to process that I did a marathon—like, the stuff that I see Olympic athletes doing on TV. Did I just do that?
I was nowhere near what you would call fast, but I feel like such a winner. I did something that I’ve always wanted to do. It’s weird that I actually just ran a marathon. I don’t think my head has processed it. Because I was never athletic. In high school, I got B’s in PE all the time.
It’s Thanksgiving weekend, and I’ve come to realize how important health and fitness is. I’m so grateful that I’m generally healthy and have no major health problems. That’s the reason why I decided to run the marathon. Well, and I also did two half marathons, so I thought I was ready for the big one.
But man, it was definitely a challenge for me. I did train for it, but I don’t think I trained enough. The first half was alright; the last 10 km was death. My legs and butt got so sore in the last 10 km that I could barely walk. It was so painful that I got a little emotional around the 35 km mark—I teared up a bit but I kept going.
During the last 10 km, I passed some photographers en route. I always tried to pick up my pace when I saw them. For a couple of them, I even found the energy to jump up so that I could get an awesome shot. If they turn out good, I’m going to buy some.
During the last few kilometres, I looked so uncomfortable that a couple of first aiders on bikes even asked me if I was okay. I was in pain, but not dying, so I said I was okay.
When I got to the last 2 km of the run, I magically was able to pick up my legs and start jogging again. Don’t ask me how, but I sprinted the last 300 m.
When I got to the finish line, the announcer said, “Congratulations, Dina Lu,” but he pronounced my name as Die-na instead of Dee-na. That didn’t bother me as much as the pain did, so I let him off the hook. I grabbed some bananas, granola bars and water, and found an empty spot to stretch a bit. It was awesome to finish.
The place I stayed at was about a 20 minute walk from the finish line. After catching my breath for 10 minutes, I slowly waddled my way up two blocks on the street.
I saw an empty taxi and flagged it down. And that was actually the happiest taxi ride I ever had, no joke. The taxi driver told me that he actually had someone to go pick up, but when he saw me having so much trouble walking he thought, “Oh my, this girl really needs a taxi. Priorities!” I like how that taxi driver thinks.
I took a shower, gobbled up lunch, and caught a bus back to Swartz Bay so I could take the ferry back to Vancouver.
I’m back home now. I had dinner and brushed my teeth. And flossed too—no matter how exhausted I am, I can’t stand food stuck in my teeth. I wanted to write down some thoughts from today’s experience so I decided to sit down and type away on my computer, but I think it’s time I pass out on my bed now. Good night.
October 9, 2017: The day after the marathon
I’m feeling better today, after 10 hours of sleep. My legs are still sore, so I’m still waddling around. Going down the stairs hurts the most. I’m surprised my abs and shoulders don’t hurt as much as I thought they would. Maybe they’ll start to hurt more tomorrow.
Today, I was thinking about whether or not I would call myself a “marathoner,” since I just ran a marathon. I would call myself a runner because I run regularly, but I’m not sure if I would call myself a marathoner. When does one become a marathoner? Or a half marathoner? Or a runner? It makes sense to me that once you start doing something regularly and you have some kind of a passion for it, then you can call yourself whatever. For now, I’m a runner.
Yesterday, I was in so much pain that I swore to myself to never do a marathon again. Today, it’s a little different. I’m considering doing another one. I like running. I like the adrenaline. I like the energy that the race gives me. It’s painful—yes—but it’s a good kind of a pain. But I also know that the risk of injury is high. Maybe I’ll stick to half marathons.
Today has been relaxing. It’s Thanksgiving Day so I’ve been chilling at home. Though I have been moving around the house. I unpacked my backpack from the Victoria trip, cleaned up my room, did laundry, and cooked lunch.
Whenever I walk, I keep thinking that this must be what it feels like when you’re super old. I kind of look like my grandpa when I walk—I waddle from side to side, shift my feet forward, and have to hold the railing when I go up and down the stairs.
October 10, 2017: Two days after the marathon
Today, I took a sick day off work because it’s hard to walk. The morning was almost as bad as yesterday, but I tried to move around the house more today. Now, at 11 PM, my legs feel a lot better. I’m almost back to normal.
October 16, 2017: A week after the marathon
By the third day, I was 90% back to normal. Right now, seven days later, I’m completely recovered. I even went for a run today—probably 4 km. I don’t know if I’ll do a marathon ever again, but I’ll keep running. Next year, I’m going to beat my 10k and half marathon times, for sure!
The day before the marathon, I asked myself if my life would be drastically changed. To answer that question—no, not really.
I mean, of course I can say that I ran a marathon and of course it’s something that I am proud of, but I still feel pretty much the same. I almost expected to feel like Dash from The Incredibles after running the marathon, but I don’t feel like I have any superpowers, haha. My life is the same, my day-to-day is the same.
I’d say running the marathon inspired something in me. Something that’s hard to pin down. Maybe I feel like I can reach any goal that I make, no matter how impossible it seems at first?
Or do I want to take it to the next level and be an ultra-marathoner? (I think probably not. I’m not that into running.)
Or maybe I now have a new angle with which to view life’s journey? (If you take one step at a time, you’ll reach your destination? But then that implies everyone has a destination. Or maybe I should try to run without a route sometime and see what happens? I’d probably get lost in Surrey. I don’t really know; philosophy is hard.)
As you can see, I don’t really know what this marathon means for me. But what I do know is that the marathon was an awesome experience. I got to sightsee a large chunk of Victoria, I got to accomplish a goal that I made for myself years ago, and I learned that I could run 42 kilometres if I put my mind to it. I’m going to keep mulling about it, and maybe next time I’ll write a post about what I figured out.